*Flags off construction of 284km Kano-Maradi Rail line
By Adelola Amihere
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday directed the Ministries of Transportation and Finance to immediately conclude financial arrangements with appropriate co-financiers that will partner with the Federal Government for the construction of West-East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar, linking some major cities in South East and South South.
Speaking at the virtual groundbreaking ceremony for the Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi Rail Line, the President said the West-East Coastal rail line will connect Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenegoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
He further disclosed that the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri rail which passes through Enugu and Makurdi with branches to Owerri, Imo state and Damaturu, Yobe state have been awarded for reconstruction to include a deep sea port in Bonny Island and a Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt with the objectives of achieving a vibrant and functional railway infrastructure in the Eastern part of the country.
While giving a historical perspective to the project , President Buhari noted that the cities of Jibiya and Maradi constitute a significant trading core between Nigeria and Niger Republic – a tradition dating back many centuries.
He explained that the Kano–Maradi rail line has been identified as a viable line that will significantly enhance the movement of passengers and freight to the hinterland especially raw materials from both agricultural and mineral resources for our industries.
“The rail line traverses the major commercial and administrative centre of Kano and passes through other economic hubs of the country including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina and up to the border town of Jibiya and the Niger Republic city of Maradi.
“This vital infrastructure line will establish an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport services between Northern and Southern regions of the country, reaching Nigerian southern ports of Lagos and Warri.
“The entire route encompasses territory inhabited by close to 80 million people across 10 states of the country. This project has a branch line to Dutse the capital of Jigawa State to open up this corridor which is endowed with vast resources.,” the President stated.
Earlier in welcome address, the Minister of Transportation, Hon Chibuike Amaechi disclosed that the preliminary studies for the Kano – Maradi railway route commenced in year 2012.
” By 2015, the Ministry had concluded the Feasibility studies of this route from Kano to Maradi and produced an Outline Business Case that attested to the high viability of this corridor for railway transportation and was therefore listed among other prioritized railway and railway related projects.
“The entire network of the project has fifteen (15) railway stations of different categories with major stations of approximately 3,000 peak passenger capacity in cities of Kano and Katsina and stations of standard category in Kazaure, Daura, Jibiya and Dutse and minor stations in Dambatta, Shargelle and Mashi as well as halt stations in Kunya, Kano airport, Muduru, Dadara and in Niger Republic at Annol Mata and Maradi., “he stated
Amaechi further added that the project will reach a substantial completion in year 2023 when it will be ready to handle passenger and freight daily traffic forecast of 9,364 passengers and approximately 3,000 metric tons of freight on return trips between Kano and Maradi.
The construction project is going to be handled by Messrs Mota-Engil Nigeria Limited with the support of European Export Credit Agencies and Development Finance Institutions and the involvement of local capacities and resources in line with the Presidential order on local content.